The Top Five Ways To A Profitable Golf Outing

It’s estimated that there are over one million golf outings annually in the United States, the majority of which have a charitable component. To put that into perspective, there are approximately 2.5 million weddings every year in the United States.

With the boom in golf participation caused by the pandemic, the popularity of golf outings is expected to reach new heights in the coming months and years. If that happens, the gap between golf outings and weddings could decrease even further.

Growth in the number of golfers typically translates in growth in the number of golf outings, which certainly makes sense. Golf outings can be an extremely enjoyable and lucrative way for organizations to raise money and awareness while providing client entertainment, public relations and networking.

However, conducting a successful and profitable golf outing isn’t easy. There are many challenges golf event managers face as they look to provide a memorable outing while minimizing costs and maximizing revenue.

Golf Ball Cannon
To help improve your chances for a successful golf event this year, we recently talked with golf professional Mike Tait, who is also the founder of SMT Events, a company that specializes in golf outing fundraising. Known for their popular golf ball cannon, Oswego-based SMT has helped raise over $14 million for charities, local groups and corporations since 2009.

Below is Mike’s list of the top five ways to to conduct a more profitable golf outing.

1. SPONSORS

Far and away, your sponsors are your top profit producing source for your event. While you are certainly aware of this fact, you have to admit that you and your committee have actually spent the least effort in this area. I would guess that you have spent more effort on what to put in the goody bags.

Finding sponsors for golf outings is often overlooked. Instead of putting together “Birdie Packages” or “Platinum Sponsorships” which really only give potential sponsors a reason to say “no”, have your committee get out and meet with all potential sponsors and simply ask them what they want from and for their sponsorship dollars.

Get creative. You have dozens of things that you can have sponsored from scorecards to parking spaces. Other ideas include water hazards, Jello shots, Hooters girls or even hand car washes while your players are out on the course. Think outside the box for a more profitable golf outing.

2. ENTRY FEE

Probably the single biggest mistake made at every event is the entry fee. The cost from the golf course for golf, lunch, dinner, tax and mandatory gratuity comes to $116.20 per player and your committee decides to set the outing cost at $120 because you either don’t want to gouge people or you fear that people will not attend if the price is too high. This is a fatal error.

Besides giving you less than $4 profit per player, what happens if the weather is so bad that your event is cancelled? You still have to pay the course, but you only make $4 per player and everyone gets a raincheck to play the course. Your fundraiser is ruined and all of your efforts have been wasted.

You need to think of it another way. This is the single item that every participant will pay that absolutely guarantees you 100% participation. In other words, not everyone will buy your mulligans, raffle tickets, silent auction items, play your games etc. You need to price your golf outing in anticipation both for the worst weather situation and for the possibility that your event will be inhabited by the absolute cheapest people on the planet.

You need to make real profit on your costs from the golf course. It is your only 100% guarantee. Don’t be afraid to give your players a real VALUE and charge them for it.

3. RAFFLE

Since your raffle table, more often than not, is filled with stuff that has been donated by potential sponsors that couldn’t or wouldn’t come up with a cash donation, you need to turn that “stuff” into cash. Your raffle and raffle ticket sales are your #3 largest profit source for your event.

The problem that exists is that far too many events decide on a raffle ticket sale system that cater to the cheapest person at your event. In other words, you often see things like; $1 per ticket, 6 for $5, 12 for $10 or an arm’s length for $20. This is far too time consuming for your ticket sellers to handle and gives people too many choices.

Think about the great prizes you have assembled and displayed. You don’t want to sell 20 people a single ticket for one dollar. You are better off selling that stuff on eBay. Sell all of your raffle tickets for one price. They can ONLY buy an arm’s length of tickets for $20, period. No discussion, no choices and it is far easier for your ticket sellers. You only have so many people in your group, either they buy $20 worth of raffle tickets or buy none at all. You will increase your revenue dramatically with one price.

4. AUCTION

If you get some really nice “stuff” donated, take it off the auction table and use it for your auction. You have to be aware of a couple of things though.

First, a silent auction is for your bargain hunters who are looking to steal something at a discounted price from the rest of the people so you might not do as well with it there. A live auction is for the people who like to brag or who need the notoriety of the applause after the bidding has ended.

GOLF-RAFFLEWe have all heard where table number three whispers, “Can you believe Jim spent that kind of money for those tickets”? “Well, if I had his money, I would burn mine. He can afford it, just keep clapping”.

Know your people, choose the right type of auction and your event will do very well.

5. GAMES

Most events believe that the bulk of their money comes from the games or contests that they have on the golf course. They could not be more wrong.

First, imagine a total rain out situation. The only way that you are making any money that day is by following my advice from #1 & #2 above. Secondly, you will never get 100% participation in your games and contests, especially when you have corporate sponsors in your field and they have filled their “free” foursomes with people from the office as those people have no real reason to participate, are not golfers and often will feel a sense of entitlement as title sponsors and not believe they need to do anything else all day long to help your cause.

Please note however, every single game that you have on the course and every single prize is something that you should sell to a sponsor ( #1 above). Secondly, as the day gets late, people will also feel tapped out and be far less likely to participate in any game that you have on the course, especially if that game requires any type of skill.

If you’re planning a golf outing this year, know your audience and consider Mike’s advice. Golf outings should be fun and entertaining, but their top priority is to accomplish the goals of your group or organization.

Looking to upgrade your golf outing? Learn how SMT Events can turn your golf outing into a more profitable, fun event without any additional effort from your group.

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Walter Lis

Walter Lis is the managing editor of Chicago Golf Report, which launched in 2010.

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